An Appeal for Reason
“"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
I find it amazing what is accepted as logic among the denominations. Some argue that God’s Holy Word is too difficult for the average person to understand. Therefore, members are urged to let their leaders, who have gone to school for such things, tell them what God actually meant to say. Others argue that the Bible cannot be understood unless the Holy Spirit directly intervenes and grants a person the ability to understand the Bible. In either system the result is the same; when confronted with the truth found in God’s Word they will say, “you don’t understand!” They will happily ignore you because an “ignorant” or “spiritless” person cannot be expected to know about what they are talking.
Yet God has always invited reasoned discourse over His teachings. When God wanted people to understand that He alone is God, He invited men to bring their best arguments in support of their gods. “Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me” (Isaiah 45:21). God has no fear of man’s logic. “For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Corinthians 1:19-20). This is not to say that God will not reason with mankind, but to warn us that God is so far above us that He can make mincemeat of our best arguments. This is simply because all knowledge, understanding, and wisdom originate with God. “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). We cannot outperform God with what He provides. Hence, when God argued about the foolishness of idol worship, His case was flawless (Isaiah 44:9-20).
God chose the seemingly foolish method of preaching the gospel to save men’s souls (I Corinthians 1:21). At its foundation, preaching is persuading people of the truth of the gospel by reason. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11). Hence, when we read of Paul entering a new city we find, “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ"” (Acts 17:2-3). Paul’s customary method was to enter a town and reason with the people from the Scriptures. When Paul moved on to Athens we read, “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17). Later Paul journeyed to Corinth were we once again find, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:4).
Paul was successful because he relied on God’s logic and not the flawed methods that pass for reasoning among men. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).
God’s way can be learned by men. God requires that all Christians learn it. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:6-10). The Greek word, dokimazo, which here is translated “finding out” means to try, scrutinize, prove, test, or examine. Therefore, God is commanding each Christian to examine and prove what is acceptable to God. In another book, Paul said, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22). Such commands require Christians to think, to reason, and to make judgments. The standard for all judgments is God’s revealed word.
The need for learning to reason is evident. Paul warned in Ephesians 5:6 that there are people who will deceive Christians with empty words. Like a sugar-laden desert, the words sound good, but there is no nutritious substance for the soul in them. Only by correct reasoning can we detect the good from the bad. To gain that ability, we must learn until we reach the maturity level of Christ Himself (Ephesians 4:11-13). So, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15).
As we study together, it is my desire to show you how to correctly reason and how to detect and defeat the faulty reasoning of false teachers.
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
1) Isn’t appealing to reason canceling faith?
2) Some teach that man is too corrupt to be persuaded by mere words unless God directly intervenes. How would you answer this?